You’ve seen the hardware revolution: from landlines and PCs to smartphones and tablets. Such is the influence of this revolution that mobile is now the only media channel that is growing in usage, already accounting for approximately 20% of all e-commerce traffic (Business Insider Intelligence Report, Nov 2013).
Less recognised by businesses but of equal importance is the software revolution; from standard websites to mobile-friendly websites to native* mobile apps for businesses. Today consumers see business mobile apps as innovative and convenient, a ‘nice-to-have’. In the very near future, consumers will expect these as a minimum, and be so used to having apps at their fingertips that businesses not in the app stores are in danger of being forgotten. This means the rise and rise of mobile apps for businesses is a trend that cannot be ignored.
Whilst a consumer must consciously remember to visit a website, they are constantly reminded of an app every time they see the icon on their screen – often several times an hour depending on their phone usage. The benefits for your business of being a fixture on consumers’ devices extends far beyond brand awareness.
The functionality of native apps provides a springboard to advanced interaction with users. One way of achieving this interaction is by integrating social media and the device’s calendar, photos, SMS, phone and other fundamental features into your business’ app.
For instance, our primary school clients value the ability to put all of their events and public holidays in their app for parents to add to their own personal calendars with one click. This way, the school’s events are not kept in a separate diary and users can set pop-up reminders very easily. Parents can also directly alert teachers to a child’s absence through the school app. Your customers can also be directed to your business’ social media pages for greater exposure and interaction, with all users able to view your posts, even if they don’t have a personal Facebook or Twitter account.
The engagement revolution continues with the increasing use of push notifications. Push notifications allow you to send alerts directly to the people who have installed your app, even when the app is closed on a device. These alerts can be sent to all users or targeted individual user groups, such as purchasers of a certain vehicle model or clothing brand.
Additionally, the alert can be set to open up a specific app screen when the user clicks on it, or can link to an email, number or web page. This enhances two-way communication with users. Push alerts provide an opportunity for businesses to reach consumers in a more engaging way than email or SMS, and best of all; alerts are free for both the sender and receiver.
Customers are much more likely to accept frequent push notifications than opt into subscription programs, according to the Vibes 2013 Mobile Consumer Report. Only 37% of survey respondents said they allow SMS messages from brands, compared to 60% who agree to push notifications. Looking forward, Semil Shah, TechCrunch columnist, says, “It’s hard to over-hype the power of mobile push notifications…push alerts only grow in importance as a channel for applications to communicate with and re-engage users.”
These are the reasons that investment in mobile applications is increasing in priority for small and large businesses, backed up by a recent survey of European IT executives. The 2013 CIONET survey revealed that mobile applications were ranked in the top ten technology investment priorities for Western European enterprises, up from 37th place in 2012.
A positive mobile experience for the end user is already so critical for consumer engagement that it should be a fundamental part of every business’s marketing and sales strategy. AppsWiz has created a platform to make mobile apps for iOS and Android accessible and affordable for any sized business, so that this technological advantage is not limited to multinational companies. The time to join the revolution is now!
* ‘Native apps’ are considered superior because they are installed directly onto a smartphone and in most cases, work with no internet connectivity. Native apps work much faster by harnessing the power of the processor and can access specific hardware such as a camera.
Dennis Benjamin is the CEO of AppsWiz, Australia’s leading app developer specialising in creating standard and custom apps for SMEs.
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